Regular readers will know, perhaps rather too well, that the Council is a firm and long-standing supporter of a Crossrail 2 station in Chelsea. What has been less discussed in recent years is that we have also campaigned for a Crossrail 1 station on the site of the old Kensal gas works.
For various technical reasons, our station proposals received a flat “No” back in 2013 but we did not despair. We believed that the logic for the station still stacked up and so we pressed on with our lobbying, and with refining our proposals in an effort to address the engineering issues.
And guess what, Boris has just asked Network Rail to look again at our proposals.
That work will be getting under way soon. It’s not yet a done deal, of course, but I’m convinced the Mayor and TfL want, if at all possible, to overcome the technical challenges and build a Crossrail station at Kensal.
There are compelling reasons for doing so. The gas works site is 67 acres. Without a station that site will be limited to about 1,500 new homes, with a station it could provide up to 5,000. And there would also be thousands of new jobs, and much else besides. That’s justification enough. But there are other benefits too.
We may be a red-trouser wearing Tory council, but we have a vision for North Kensington. Over the next decade or two, it is going to undergo very significant regeneration and we intend to take that opportunity to correct the architectural errors of the past and dramatically improve life for our residents.
We hope to restore traditional street patterns, introduce garden squares and open spaces, and we mean to build ‘tenure-blind’ homes with the community living together on streets rather than separated by estates.
And first into those new homes will be our existing tenants and if they want to, our leaseholders as well. These are noble ambitions and a Crossrail 1 station would make them all much more viable. Crossrail 1 would be great for Kensal, great for North Kensington, and great for the Royal Borough as a whole.
I have been accused in the past of being a bit messianic about public transport, but I really do believe we are on the brink of a transport revolution in this country. Crossrail schemes and high-speed schemes are going to slash journeys times and spread prosperity. In London, journey times will be just a fraction of what they presently are.
It’s our duty to make sure all our residents, current and future, can get the maximum benefit from that revolution. That’s why the Council is fighting for Crossrail 1 in North Kensington and Crossrail 2 in Chelsea.